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ECS A790GXM-AD3 790GX AM3 Motherboard Review

Author: Steve Grever
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Elitegroup
Tagged:

Features, Layout, Included Extras

Features

Certified For Windows Vista

The latest generation Microsoft O.S., delivers better personal productivity and digital entertainment on your PC through its improved reliability, security, and performance.

AMD Game! READY

The motherboard passed AMD tests and verifies key hardware for worry-free compatibility with platforms and components to ensure functionality with the latest, most popular PC games.

AMD Phenom II

With the state-of-the-art technology, AMD’s next generation processor, AMD Phenom II, enables the power of platform solutions for gaming, multitasking, and digital entertainment with outstanding performance and energy efficiency

All Solid Capacitors

ECS’s All-Solid-Capacitors design brings the great benefit of better durability to users. Better conductivity and heat resistance can be expected as well thus the system stability can be assured under critical conditions.

Socket AM3

The latest socket AM3 supports AMD’s AM3 processors which have featured the integrated memory controller for DDR3 memory that provides much higher bandwidth to enhance the overall system performance.

AMD Overdrive

The AMD OverDrive™ utility provides advanced system monitoring and amazing overclocking control options which allow users to directly tune the system performance in real-time under windows operation system.

 

M.I.B II

ECS’s exclusive BIOS tweaking utility, M.I.B. II (Motherboard Intelligent BIOS II), which has gathered all options of overclocking in a single page, provides higher voltage capability for helping users to achieve better overclocking results.

HT3.0

The highly scalable Hyper Transport 3.0 is capable to provide incredible bandwidth of the system bus up to 20.8GB/s which would dramatically elevate the efficiency of computing performance.

Supports 140W CPU

Mainbords support 140W CPU processors

Dual DDR3 1333

Doubles the bandwidth of your system memory up to 21.0GB/s and pumps up the system performance at lower power.

ATI CrossFire X

The technology not only combines multi-GPU and motherboard power that soars into a new dimension of graphics capability, but also delivers the highest image quality and screen resolutions, even with the most demanding 3D titles.

HDMI

The interface supports existing high-definition video formats(720p, 1080i, and even 1080p), plus multi-channel digital audio on a single cable. Combination with HDCP, provides a secure audio/video interface that meets the security requirements of content providers and systems operators.

Overclocking

Maximizes your system performance by selecting from these overclocking options:

(1) Flexible voltage adjustments

(2) Adjustable ratio and Freq

PCI EXPRESS 2.0

The exceptionally increased interconnect bit rate from 2.5GT/s up to 5.0GT/s would effectively eliminates the bottle neck of the system performance and brings the most terrific computing experience from the present to the future.

 

eSATA

The signal quality and the Max cable length is 2x longer than the conventional one. It also supports external HDD hot plug and keyed connector end for fool-proof.

Gigabit LAN

Delivers transfer speed ten times faster than conventional 10/ 100 Ethernet connections, supporting a high transfer rate up to Gigabit/s. Gigabit LAN is the networking standards for the future and is ideal for handing large amount of data such as video, audio, and voice.

8 Channel High Definition Audio

Integrated 8-channel HD Audio CODEC delivering advanced multi-channel audio and bringing you the experience of home theater-quality sound.

SPDIF Out

S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface) is a convenient connectivity and standard audio transfer format. It allows the transfer of audio from one file to another without the conversion to and from an analog format, and keeps the optical connector the best.

 

Ultra I/O Rear Panel

One eSATA port provides almost over 2 times transferring speed than USB 2.0 high-speed port. 6 USB 2.0 high-speed ports on rear panel makes users more convenient to connect more PC peripherals.

ROHS

Choose an environment-friendly, fully RoHS-compliant ECS product as the foundation for keeping harmful substances out of our ecosystem.

Layout

Front panel of retail box

Back panel of retail box with features and specifications

The A790GXM-AD3 is an ATX form factor and uses a pretty standardized layout that's similar to other AM3 motherboards. The board isn't dominated by numerous heatsinks and heatpipes flowing over the chipset and other power components. Instead, ECS used a minimalistic approach and organized all the I/O headers, capacitors, SATA headers, and DIMMs in a traditional way that's used by a variety of vendors.

The back panel of this motherboard is nothing special to look at. There is a simple backplate behind the CPU and nothing else.

One of my biggest pet peeves of late is how the back I/O panel is being organized on modern motherboards these days. The A790GXM-AD3's back I/O panel consists of a PS2 keyboard port, PS2 mouse port, D-sub, HDMI port, RJ45 LAN connector, optical S/PDIF Out, clear CMOS button, eSATA port, six USB 2.0 ports, and audio ports. While I can commend ECS for adding ports for HDMI, eSATA, and S/PDIF Out, I'm a little disappointed in how everything is laid out on the I/O panel. There's a lot of unused space as well as several places where everything doesn't line up like the two USB headers over the HDMI port. Is it that difficult for vendors to spend a little time organizing the back I/O panel so users can see some logic in how it's laid out and designed?

This ECS board supports two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots that support ATI CrossfireX and Hybrid Crossfire. There are also two PCI-E x1 slots and two PCI slots.

The front panel audio header supports high-definition audio and ECS also included an S/PDIF header to output high-quality audio to another device through optical fiber or coaxial connector.

There are also three USB 2.0 headers on board that support six USB devices.

ECS rounded out the board by including a parallel ATA header for legacy IDE devices.

Here's a close-up look at the front panel header and speaker header (top left above front panel header).

End users can connect six SATA 3GB/s devices to this motherboard via the included headers shown above. These SATA headers face outward on the right side of the motherboard to help with cable management.

This motherboard has four DDR3 DIMM sockets that support DDR3 1066/1333 memory modules. This board also maxes out at 32GBs of RAM if you can find four 8GB memory modules to install in it. I've always found it a bit humorous when I read "supports up to 32GB of RAM" because I don't know any end user using this much RAM in their system.

The CPU, solid capacitors, and other power components are laid out pretty well and will not interfere with any third-party cooling solutions. The copper heatsinks above are also not very obtrusive and should provide adequate cooling to these components above.

One of my favorite additions to any motherboard is on board power and reset buttons. This is just one more thing I don't have to connect to the motherboard during testing and troubleshooting.

As I stated earlier in the review, this ECS board is organized very well and leaves adequate room for larger video cards and third-party cooling solutions. I didn't like how the back I/O panel was organized and I definitely think the next revisions of this board should include a more cohesive I/O panel design. The color of the board was pretty attractive and I liked seeing "Black Edition" on top of the copper heatsink because it made me think of unlocked CPUs. Hopefully, this board will be able to live up to this billing as a "black" motherboard.

Included Extras

ECS didn't bundle much with this motherboard. Above you can see how they colored the I/O back plate black, which matches the PATA cable shown above.

There are two right-angle SATA cables and two regular SATA cables included with this motherboard.

Lastly, ECS included a user's manual, driver disc, and quick install guide to round out the additional items included with this motherboard.

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